In the beginning there was...

 Just having met my Grandma in 1968

Just having met my Grandma in 1968

I was born during the economic boom of the Four Asian Tigers. My father was well looked after, working for the biggest Japanese trading company at that time, but there was a glass ceiling for all the non-Japanese employees; all the management were relocated from Japan on a two year rotation to Taipei. My mother retired at the age of 32, precisely two years after I was born. In her retirement she hit the Taipei equivalent of Wall Street: a bunch of shop fronts where anyone could go to buy and sell stock in their own individual private booths. All the housewives were stock brokers in 1982. It was a vigorous time to stake a piece of your future on fast-earned money. And my parents were right in the thick of it all. 

Apart from sitting on one of the hundreds of scooters jam-packed on the sidewalk, waiting for my mother to quickly dash in and sell some of her lower income yielding stocks, one of my stickiest memories as a child is the image of my Grandfather's tall silhouette, covered in flour and quite possibly, with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, hovering over a makeshift dumpling station made from a Mahjong table. Always with his rolling pin, patiently rolling out the coin-sized dough ready for its magical transformation into a thick-skinned southern dumpling. He was not my biological grandfather. In fact, I could barely understand his Mandarin, spoken with that thick Kanton sing-song accent. My Grandma was often called upon to translate and often the interaction between us never moved beyond the necessary instructions. He wasn't a man of many words to begin with, but humbly made up for it by cooking grossly-overestimated portions of every dish that was to be on the table. Of course, only now it makes sense to me. He showed his love through food.

RitaKahn Chen